It’s back and it’s still funny and clever as hell.
The Book Of Mormon by Broadway Across Canada
Until September 4th
The road company is making another stop in Vancouver and although it is a brand new cast it is still the same great show. It’s vulgar, smug, shocking and one of the most dynamic and thrilling musicals I have ever seen.
Reading up on the making of The Book of Mormon you learn that the Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the men behind the South Park animated TV show and Robert Lopez part of team that made Avenue Q, spent a real long time developing the material and work shopping the script, 7 years.
But they were creating something unique. Like a lot of the satire on South Park they rage against arrogance and hypocrisy and the suffer fools gladly, almost manically.
The story is two Mormon missionaries Elder Price and Elder Cunningham get assigned to Uganda where they try to convert people more concerned with poverty, AIDS and a ruthless military leader.
The songs follow along classic musical theatre styles. The opening song Hello, is reminiscent on The Telephone Hour from Bye Bye Birdie, Spooky Mormon Hell Dream is the Tevya’s Dream song from Fiddler on the Roof and Joseph Smith American Moses is Small House of Uncle Thomas from The King and I. While respecting the style they create brilliant audacious and clever lyrics.
The situations and characters are vivid but these writers are not just being provocative they are smart and they have a point, even if it is cheeky. The General is called Butt Fuckin’ Naked, but he is based on a real warlord named General Butt Naked.
The script also has high stakes and twist in the plot that engages and creates tension that helps heighten the comedy. A character suddenly gets shot in the head and the General is going to force circumcision on the women in the village, hardly laughing matters but it makes everything bigger, bolder, faster and yep, funnier.
The comedy is also surprisingly disciplined. Sure there are flashes of meta humour, like when a character acknowledges with panic that a curtain is closing in front of him. There are stupid gags like Elder Cuningham always mangling Nabulungi’s name or when she tries to text using a typewriter but it all works.
The show is layered in sight gags with Hobbits and Lt. Uhura making appearances each song induces laughter and gasps. The choreography by Casey Nicholaw is filled with witty and surprising moves that add yet another layer of gasping laughter.
This cast is having a great time and the script allows each of them to have a moment to shine and be silly and unlike some of the touring shows they all look thrilled to be there and sing and dancing with gusto!
The three leads all have great comic timing and strong belting voices. Candace Quarrels plays Nabulungi the young naïve villager and she brings brings an innocent curiosity as well she is grounded, albeit lightly, in the more dire truths of the situations and when when she sings it is divine.
Ryan Brody is a tall, handsome, clean cut and very funny baritone and he does shy away from the hubris and arrogance that causes Elder Price’s fall from grace. Cody Jamison Strand is simply brilliant as the sad sack, malapropism spewing Elder Cunningham, he also has a brilliant sense of stillness and knows how to manipulate his speaking voice for big laughs.
The whole cast is bringing their “A” game but I also want to mention Sterling Jarvis as the tribe leader Mafala Hatimbi who has the right blend of dire stakes but with a light comedic touch. Also Daxton Bloomquist is having a field day as the repressed Moron who lets flashes of flamboyance escape.
The audience was a sold out crowd and the in this case the traditional Vancouver Standing Ovation was justified. The cast is deliriously playful and the orchestra is bold and brassy and the script is a both riotously engaging. In my case my mouth and tongue were dry at the end of the show because I spent so much time with it opened in a broad big smile.
STUDENT RUSH TICKETS: The production will conduct a pre-show student rush, making twenty (20) tickets available per show at $25 per ticket. Student Rush Tickets will be available first come first served to those who show valid student ID at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre box office 2 hours prior to each performance. A limit of two tickets per person will be enforced.
This is a wickedly funny satire unlike anything you have seen done on an epic scale of brilliant shocking comedy and wicked tuneful song!
David C. Jones